‘‘Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting than being one,” Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe had said. Fortunately, most actresses in present day Bollywood would beg to differ. Times have changed and mercifully for the better.
As I have often mentioned in my earlier columns, 2014, more than any other year, is the Year of the Heroine. With several heroines –Rani Mukerji, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Deepika Padukone, Parineeti Chopra, Sonam Kapoor by throwing in their hat in the ring and shouldering the burden of commercial success of films they star in, have empowered themselves manifold. And in the bargain, they have greatly enhanced the investor confidence too. It was a telling sign that the usual brouhaha over conflict of release dates (in 2014) was more pertinent to films starring actresses than the top male stars.
Sample this: Gulaab Gang, (toplining Madhuri Dixit Nene) was pushed forward a wee bit in order to avoid cannibalisation of Dedh Ishqiya also starring the dhak dhak girl (Dixit Nene) and Huma Qureshi. Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah were almost like also-rans in this film. Kangana Ranaut’s Queen came in like a breath of fresh air soon after and won over the audience. Mardaani was brave enough to make an entry right after the cop action drama, Singham Returns and yet, because of Rani Mukerji’s bravura performance, her aggressive and involved promotion of the film, it earned rave reviews and a long running box-office performance stint after a slow start. Mary Kom starring Priyanka Chopra reportedly led to dates for cousin Parineeti Chopra’s Daawat- e- Ishq being pushed forward in order to avoid a clash. Eventually, Daawat-e-Ishq released with Sonam Kapoor’s Khoobsurat.
Regardless of films that scored well or not, to watch all these actresses go all out to build visibility through promotional activities was delightful. Priyanka Chopra even managed a tax waiver for her film, Deepika Padukone by her sheer presence at countless promos drew attention to Finding Fanny and Rani Mukerji spread the word on the resilience of women cops, far and wide, displaying their commerce driving abilities.
While the gap between the business of their films and those of their male co-stars is still a wide chasm, these ladies are certainly on the right track. Pulling in their might behind the projects they believe in, they have proved themselves to be a far cry from the glamorous prop situated almost always solely in relation to the leading men. Actresses, given the wide-held belief of heroes fetching the moolah have been content playing second fiddle to their leading stars, but that attitude seems to be changing quick and fast. Bearing in mind the goings-on around us, it was imperative that the anniversary edition of Screen The Big Picture put the spotlight on “The Changing Face of Hindi film Heroine”.
More often than not, Screen Big Picture is usually a festive affair as it coincides with Ganesh Chaturthi every year but this once, it actually overlapped with the beginning of Dussehra and Durga Pooja! Call it serendipity or a mere coincidence, but given that our theme was centered around the empowered heroines, it seemed like a good sign.
Rani Mukerji who, has impressed us with her powerhouse performances over the years—Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Ghulam, Yuvaa, Saathiya, Black and her recent outing in Mardaani –very graciously signed up as a panelist for our much-awaited event. The excitement for her session was palpable what with pretty much everybody who was in the vicinity, dropping in for a dekko. Raveena Tandon with a huge fan following for her Bollywood masala films and freshly minted producer Dia Mirza with Vidya Balan starrer Bobby Jasoos joined in too.
This week’s edition brings you different perspectives from three heroines markedly different from each other in their career trajectory. For insights and snatches of the delightful conversation turn to our cover story this issue, especially dedicated to the heroines of Hindi cinema, a humble effort to doff a hat to the achievements of our inimitable leading ladies.